My Experience With Breast Feeding So Far

When I became pregnant with Mouse, I knew I would breast feed. It was my intention to breast feed exclusively. I eagerly read the book provided by the hospital on breast feeding. I paid close attention in class. I thought I was prepared even if still nervous about it. Many of my pregnancy dreams involved breast feeding for the first time. It was constantly on my mind.

There are many reasons to breast feed, including boosting your child’s health early on. A baby gets more nutrients from his or her mother’s milk than from formula. This helps with the immune system and development. Not to mention mother’s milk is free.

Despite my best intentions, I ran into trouble early on. My milk didn’t come in fast enough and I was forced to supplement with formula. Mouse was introduced to the bottle three days after she was born. We were fortunate that she took to it without any difficulty. Although I have nothing against feeding formula to babies, I took it hard that I had to supplement my breast milk with formula. Given my emotional and sleepless state at the time, is it any wonder?

I almost gave up breast feeding several times during those early weeks. Between getting the latch just right to surviving the cluster feedings when she’d feed practically nonstop all day or night . . . I can’t tell you the number of times I was in tears over the process. I was told to hang in there for at least six weeks. If I was still having trouble and wanting to quit by that point, then I could. Somehow I persisted. Amazingly, or so I thought at the time, when that sixth week mark hit, I no longer felt breast feeding was a hopeless cause. I was enjoying it. How could I not love those moments when my little one fell asleep, cuddling my breast, satisfied?

As the time approached when I would have to return to work, I began to despair. I wasn’t able to find time to pump. I had maybe two frozen bags of milk for Mouse. A friend suggested I pump an hour before each feeding. The problem with that was Mouse was eating every two hours. While I could do it, I wasn’t up for it. All I would do all day is pump, feed, pump, feed. It just wasn’t practical. Breast feeding was a two handed job for me and so pumping while she fed on one breast was not an option either. I am sure there were other things I could try but my frustration got the better of me.

I resigned myself to the fact that Mouse would take formula while I was at work until I built up a supply. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t being given formula occasionally already.

Mouse is almost exclusively on breast milk now. We feed her by both breast and bottle. I pump at work during the day, and find it quite challenging. I am not one of those women who is overflowing with milk. I can count the number of times on one hand that my breasts have leaked. Although sometimes my breasts ache when full, they don’t hurt the way I’ve heard it described by other women. When I asked a friend how many ounces she pumps a session, she described filling one bag and needing to grab another and filling that one as well–with one breast (a good tip to remember: never compare yourself to others). I’m lucky to get an ounce some times. The most I’ve gotten from one breast is two and a half ounces–and that’s first thing in the morning. It feels like it is not enough, but I have heard it is normal. It’s too early to tell if it will be a problem later. For now, Mouse is fed breast milk from the bottle at daycare and I nurse her when she is home with me.

Soon I will be introducing Mouse to solids and then it will be a whole new ballgame . . .

Do you (or did you) breast feed? What difficulties, if any, did you run into? What about pumping?

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jen
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 12:14:53

    When I had my first daughter… I had zero trouble. Sh took right to it, I always had plenty plus more and was usually a mess. She breast fed until she was 14 months. But when the second daughter came along… She wouldn’t latch on proper. I never had enough and after 4 months of frustration and her not gaining weight right… I switched to formula. I felt like such a horrible mom. But she began gaining weight, she was a lot happier, I wasn’t as frustrated and now 12 years later, I think she is turning out pretty good. πŸ™‚

    Reply

  2. caspette
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 19:15:15

    I was lucky milk supply apprently turned out to be a non-issue for me. I was positively leaking, in some cases shooting streams out randomly (I kid you not it was a milk fountain, totally weird). My major issue was the pain you experience when you first breast feed. It very nearly turned me off totally. I was in tears at some points. I started expressing and would alternate a feed on a feed off, even had the day off and just pumped. But then it all came good and never looked back. But I was lucky and know it. I personally was a bottle fed baby and I think I turned out fine πŸ™‚

    It is hard to shake those feelings of failure though. My son got formula at day care when he started. But he didnt start daycare till he was 8 months old. Now he is on cows milk so it doesnt matter, but I still breast feed at night and weekends.

    Considering the issues you had you have done extremely well so feel proud of yourself πŸ™‚

    Reply

  3. Nikki D
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 23:49:16

    Oh my friend, you do not want the full details of my tale.

    A summary – two lactation consultants gave up on us after a month. I tried all the natural strategies (fenugreek etc) then imported drugs from New Zealand to build what milk supply I had and pumped exclusively with a hospital grade rental (less frustrating and more productive than nursing) until my supply crashed entirely around 8 months. Even with all that it was still never enough to be his sole source. Darned PCOS.

    I hated the entire experience, especially pumping at work. No one could believe I stuck through all that & said they would have given up much earlier but you know exactly how stubborn I can be. πŸ™‚ Was it all worth it? I think so although I wish there could have been some balanced middle ground.

    Reply

  4. tamking11
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 11:40:51

    When Lucy was a baby you name it, I tried it. None of it worked. We changed to formula – no regrets.

    Oliver was a champion breast-feeder but a delivery complication left me on extraordinarily high doses of painkillers which striped my milk and made my son ill. We changed to formula on day 6, and again, have never looked back.

    Reply

  5. Literary Feline
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 01:42:02

    Thank you for sharing your stories, Ladies. I really did feel like a failure as I had my heart set on exclusively breastfeeding. It didn’t help that I was being bombarded by medical professionals and others about how breastfeeding is a must. Peer pressure at its worst! And then when I started hearing about how easy breastfeeding moms had it (like Mandy :-)), I felt even worse. Is it my fault my milk supply isn’t overflowing? But when I began to ask around, I learned that I was actually doing okay. Other women out there have my issues too–and my concern about supply isn’t so unusual. I am a lot better off than some in that regard.

    When I did (do) start feeling guilty about supplementing with formula, I always asked myself, “Do you think less of so and so for formula feeding?” My answer was always no. So why should I think less of myself? It really does help when I keep that in mind.

    Jen – Isn’t it interesting how different it can be from one child to another? It must have been so hard for you with your second daughter–the latch, not having enough milk, and her not gaining weight . . . I am glad she is doing well now though. πŸ™‚

    Caspette – I think the beginning is almost torture on a mom who is trying to breastfeed for the first time! Both you and the baby are learning and the curve isn’t always the same. LOL But look at you and your little Monkey now! I am glad you persevered.

    Nikki – I am sorry you had to go through all that. It’s truly amazing that you did stick with it despite all the difficulties you had. But, you are right, not surprising given how stubborn you can be. πŸ™‚

    Oh, and I hate pumping at work too. Ugh.

    Tam – You really can’t predict how it will work out, can you? I wish I could say I was regret-less but maybe in time, once I’m a little farther away from the experience, I will be able to say that too. Some things you really can’t help.

    Reply

  6. Trish
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 12:20:44

    My breastfeeding problems have come from my baby’s overly sensitive stomach. It seems everything I eat makes her gassy or gives her an upset stomach. I persist with nursing, though, because of my husband’s severe allergies. Trying to build up her immune system is more important than the frustrations–at least so far. I go back to work in a week and I’m scared of pumping at work and not producing enough. Really it’s one of my biggest concerns! Six months is the goal but I will look forward to the day when I don’t have to worry if my yogurt is the reason she’s lying in her crib right now–wide awake–passing gas like none other. πŸ˜‰

    Reply

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